Happy Campers

It's summertime again at the local day camp, land of pools and bee stings, nature walks and nature talks, tadpoles and fishing poles.

In a world of chaos, there is still a place where kids can be kids, where feet and hands never stay idle for long, where getting dirtier than you got the day before is as important as learning about bugs and snakes and sports and art.

It may be just another summer stint, or your first time away from home, but the first-day tears never last long. There is too much to do--all the constructive things today's busy moms and dads only wish they had time to do themselves with their kids.

There is common sense and responsibility to be learned through those pipe-cleaner eyeglasses and Popsicle stick houses, skill and attention to detail to be gleaned from that colorful potholder.

Your goals here are simple.

Hold your breath as long as you can and smile for the camera.

Paint a snail and let it crawl across the paper, stack some chocolate and toasted marshmallows on a graham cracker and beg for s'more, make a stamp from a potato, draw a snake across your forehead.

Try your best to catch the biggest fish, swim the fastest lap, run the fastest race.

And it's OK if you don't.

Fun is the name of the game.

Anyone can win.

These may seem like silly games and lessons and crafts today.

But years later, that finger-painting masterpiece will resurface from the back corner of the attic when you need it most, a simple tie to a simpler time.

From Oak Park to Ojai, from Ventura to Virginia Beach, these are the rites of summer.

And it always beats a day at school.

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